Arabian Days festival in celebration of UNESCO Arabic Language Day

Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, announces the launch of its inaugural festival Arabian Days, celebrating the vibrancy, fluidity, and richness of the Arabic language. Welcoming native Arabic speakers and non-speakers alike, the festival will take place from 15 to 18 December at Manarat Al Saadiyat, located in Abu Dhabi’s vibrant Saadiyat Cultural District. 

Under this year’s theme of ‘Arabic as the Language of Poetry and Arts’, over four days, visitors will immerse themselves in an array of interactive installations, films, performances, and workshops guiding them on a journey throughout the creative world of the Arabic language. 

Arabian Days will include an engaging line-up of literary discussions and in-depth dialogues between prominent experts in the field of Arabic, including German Arabists Stefan Weidner, Mustafa Al-Sulaiman, and Carmen Gau; Ida Zilio Grande, Professor of Arabic Islamic Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice; Anne Millet, Co-founder of LEILA (Arabic Literature in European Languages); Mehmet Hakkı Suçin, Head of the Arabic Language Department of Gazi University in Türkiye and Dr Khaled Al Masri, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, at Swarthmore College, PA, USA, amongst others. As the Guest of Honour for the inaugural festival, HE Irene Lozano Domingo, Director of Casa Árabe, will deliver the opening keynote address. 

Running alongside the professional programme, Arabian Days will feature a wide range of artists, musicians, poets, writers, and other artistic performers. Featured performers include Spanish band Al-Mawlid, whose music is inspired by their Arab-Andalusian heritage; Russian students from Higher School of Economics in Moscow performing a theatrical act inspired by AlMaqamat poetry; and Naseer Shamma, the world-renowned Iraqi musician and oud maestro. 

The Arabian Days will explore a variety of topics within the sphere of Arabic language, poetry, and creative arts. These will include discussions on Arabic poetry, delving into the realms of harmony and rhythm, exploring the horizons of Arabic translation, examining the cultural and linguistic influences of Arabic music and sung poetry, addressing transformations and challenges in Arabic language curricula, exploring the intersection of fine arts and Arabic calligraphy, delving into drama and theatre, and highlighting the role of Arabic literature in fostering tolerance and understanding across diverse cultures.

HE Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: Arabian Days is a celebration of the diverse world of Arabic – from its historical origins to the vibrant contemporary language of art, culture, poetry, and knowledge. Through live performances, engaging discussions, artistic installations, and immersive experiences, the festival invites visitors to come together to experience and celebrate the richness of the language through all its creative forms. Whether Arabic is your native language or a new linguistic journey, the festival promises enriching experiences tailored for everyone to enjoy.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to delve into the world of Arabic through the live creations of Lebanese graffiti artist Georges Ekmekji, who will create a new piece during the festival. Meanwhile, Cinema Akil will set up a pop-up cinema showcasing a selection of long-form films centred around the themes of Arabic writers and poets. The event will also feature bonfire storytelling, presenting a mix of traditional and contemporary Arabic narratives. 

The festival will offer literary-themed workshops for both Arabic and non-Arabic speakers alongside captivating historical re-enactments featuring iconic characters from Arabic culture, such as Al-Mutanabbi, May Zyada, Khalil Gibran and Naguib Mahfouz. Visitors to the festival can explore art exhibitions, including a gallery displaying striking artworks from the finalists of the Kanz Al Jeel award which combine poetry and abstract art, and a new exhibition of Mahmoud Shubbar paintings which portray traditional Arabic stories with a contemporary twist. 

The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, the organisation responsible for initiatives including the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Al Ain Book Festival, Al Dhafra Book Festival, Sheikh Zayed Book Award, Kanz Al Jeel Award, and Sard Al Thahab Award, is dedicated to nurturing an appreciation of the Arabic language, celebrating its rich history, and showcasing its contemporary relevance. Through its programme of cultural events, prizes and research grants, the Centre is a catalyst for cultural development in the Arab World.